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The Revolution Will Be Hilarious & Other Essays Is Now Available!

Adam Krause

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Here's a link to get Adam Michael Krause's new book of essays, The Revolution Will Be Hilarious & Other Essays. https://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Will-Hilarious-Other-Essays/dp/8293064404/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484419956&sr=1-1

The intro to this book appears in its entirety in the previous blog post.

While it is cool and all to have this link to share, we should all probably boycott Amazon. Especially as long as they're carrying Trump Brand Products. If you're in Milwaukee, come to this upcoming event and get one in person:

http://www.redearthpress.org/events/2017/1/27/adam-michael-krause-reading-at-voyageur-bookshop

The Revolution Will Be Hilarious & Other Essays is Coming Soon!

Adam Krause

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The Revolution Will Be Hilarious & Other Essays will be published by Norway's New Compass Press in February 2017. This will be the second full-length book released by Adam Michael Krause, the founder of Red Earth Press. It is timely. It is terrifying. It is funny. It is inspiring. And it features Marx and Lennon on the cover. To get an idea of what's inside, here is a preview of the introduction.

 

Author’s Introduction

This collection of essays came about when New Compass Press informed me that the tiny pamphlet I had written for them, “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious,” had proven just too tiny to publish economically. Rather than take it out of print, they asked, would I add some essays and let them do The Revolution Will Be Hilarious and Other Essays? My first thought was that this would be impossible. The things I have written since “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious” appeared in 2013 are very different in tone and style, and could seemingly never inhabit the same volume as that earlier essay.

“The Revolution Will Be Hilarious” uses the structure of jokes as an extended metaphor to explain the psychology of democracy. My current work focuses much more on the environmental apocalypse we are now experiencing. My tone is more urgent and strident—to such an extent that I have even accepted using terms like “environmental apocalypse.” “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious” seemed like a work from a simpler time, back when I thought we had more time.

Why the change in focus? The mistake I made, if it is a mistake, was adopting the habit of reading scientific journals. And recently, there has been a remarkable shift in tone. Rather than just saying that we have to do something or our environment will collapse, most scientists now seem to say that we have to do something because our environment is already collapsing. It is a subtle, but terrifying, shift. And there is no shortage of evidence to support it. Ice sheets are collapsing. Species are disappearing. Lakes are evaporating, making agriculture impossible in many places. People starve. The oceans are losing fish, but are filling with plastic. Things are not looking good. We are in the midst of something awful and unprecedented. Analyzing jokes to explain how democracy works suddenly seemed like an antiquated concern from a forgotten era.

But as I worked on some newer essays, under the impression that The Revolution Will Be Hilarious and Other Essays would be impossible, those seemingly quaint concerns came rushing back as central ones. In fact, some of the essays I assumed had supplanted “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious” actually precede and prepare the way for it.

The first piece in this volume, “THE END IS NEAR,” was originally released on my own imprint, Red Earth Press. Each copy was hand-made, and there really weren’t that many, so I am very excited for it to appear here, where at least the words can live on even after that limited edition disappears. “THE END IS NEAR” begins by discussing some of the many prophecies of apocalypse humans have heard in the preceding centuries. And since the world has been declared nearly over so often, why should we believe contemporary warnings of an environmental apocalypse? Well, as I mentioned above, because there is ample evidence that irreversible ecological collapse has already begun.

So if that’s the case, how should we react? Do we panic? Stockpile gold? Build an army? Pray? Mostly, we need to get to work, but we don’t need to panic, provided we get to work. And there are examples among those past prophets of doom who saw an impending apocalypse as a chance for transformation, not just fighting in the streets for the remaining crumbs.

In “THE END IS NEAR,” I quote Naomi Klein’s statement that “Mass uprisings of people—along the lines of the abolition movement and the Civil Rights Movement—represent the likeliest source of ‘friction’ to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control.” I agree of course. But this statement requires elaboration. Both the abolition movement and the Civil Rights Movement were full of very contentious debates about tactics. If the time has already passed when we should have started a mass movement, the time has also passed when we should know how to proceed. Who are the targets? How do we stop them? And although these are not topics we typically discuss aloud, is sabotage acceptable? What about violence?

So in “What Is To Be Done?,” I analyze issues of ethics and tactics in political actions, with a special focus on the environmental movement. I did not begin writing this essay with a thesis to explain, but rather, a topic to explore. I had no idea what I would conclude, only that I would write. As such, this second essay took on a very different form from “THE END IS NEAR.” In “THE END IS NEAR,” I present short, often impressionistic explorations of various topics, and let the whole piece collectively present an idea. Sections are short. Topics shift. In “What Is To Be Done?,” I explore the topic as I go, and the reader can follow my thoughts as I unpack a difficult subject and try to figure out how I really feel about it.

Although I began without a destination in mind, I eventually arrived somewhere, and much to my surprise, it was the idea that the revolution would be hilarious. In “What Is To Be Done?,” I conclude that whatever movements we build or tactics we choose, those movements need to be inclusive and broad. So the lessons comedy can teach us about democracy are essential to answering the question of just what is to be done.

And so “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious” not only remains, but has proven itself essential. But for this new context, it was necessary to revise and expand the original text. I have no problem with that. Walt Whitman, who I refer to as the “patron saint” of “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious,” first published Leaves of Grass in 1855, and then spent the rest of his life expanding and altering it in numerous editions of various lengths. So rewriting and revising previously published works is a practice with an impressive pedigree. Plus, an essay that spends so much time urging us to rethink our ideas and assumptions deserves to be periodically rethought.

Concluding this volume is one final essay, containing ideas “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious” dances around but can’t actually discuss without becoming an unreadable mess. That final essay, “Time Is Not Money,” acts almost as an appendix to “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious,” clarifying some of the underlying ideas that essay leaves unsaid.

In the time since its initial publication, various people have talked or written to me about “The Revolution Will Be Hilarious.” In particular, Molly Shanahan utilized it while working on her doctoral thesis and sent me a number of helpful suggestions and observations. In particular, she suggested that “bisociation,” a term I borrowed from Arthur Koestler, would make much more sense as “multisociation.”

I am very proud of what appears in this book, but I could not have done it alone. A debt of gratitude goes to Eirik Eiglad and everyone else at New Compass Press for continuing to believe in me and my work. Endless thanks go to Marielle Allschwang for allowing me to read almost everything I write aloud to her, giving me more suggestions than I would ever care to count, agreeing to spend her life with me, and bringing me to that Shaker museum. I would also like to thank David Ravel and Richard Newman for taking me to meet Dabls. That was amazing.

It was a winding journey of exploration, research, and wildly different drafts that brought me to this now-unified volume. But beyond the surprisingly cohesive whole, I am also struck just by the essay titles in their order. First we discover that the end is near. Then we ask just what is to be done. Finally we learn that the revolution will be hilarious, and that money is one of the biggest jokes of all.

 

 

Manifesto for Magicians

Adam Krause

In the “Foreword” to Thee Psychick Bible, Carl Abrahamson writes about the role of art in a culture. “Culture in itself is usually associated with performing arts, painting, music, literature, and many other forms of traditional manifestation. The sphere of culture. But essentially, culture is exactly what the word entails: a culture—a structure or soil that contains the implicit possibility of growth and manifestation of life and, in extension, ideas and information.” The cultural artifacts of artists are merely one manifestation in the larger cultural context in which those artifacts exist. Art does not exist in a vacuum. It can impact and change reality. As Abrahamson writes, “Here we can return to the very origins of art (cave paintings, etc.). The idea was not to have a glass of wine together with tribal kin in a cosy cave, to self-aggrandize through witty ironic criticisms. The idea was to impose one's will on the world outside your own personal sphere, or that of the tribe. Art as magical evocation.”

Cultural artifacts should not be seen as commodities in a world of commodities, but emanations of will upon reality, designed to transform self, other, and surroundings. As John Cage said of music, “It makes little difference if one of us likes one piece and another another; it is rather the age-old process of making and using music and our becoming more integrated as personalities through this making and using that is of real value.” The capitalist culture in which we create demands that we create commodities. But we don’t have to do that. We can make talismans designed to transform that culture into something new. Artists can accept the given or undercut it. A clear choice. But a scary one to make.

Our creations can alter reality. To quote the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta, “Everything depends on what people are capable of imagining.” Human ideas, whether inhabiting our cerebral cortex or outwardly manifested in our creations, hold the power to shape the world. Once ideas arise from the ether of our minds, we can shape and externalize them, and they can then change reality. This is a form of magic. Spells are sentences, and sentences can be cast.

Artists, writers, and musicians are among the closest things to magicians existing today. But this role is regularly rejected. The magical powers of sounds, words, and images are mostly wielded by advertisers who seek to sell products rather than change the world. Meanwhile, artists, writers, and musicians have largely accepted their assigned roles as entertainers, providing diversions from reality rather than collisions with it.

But magic can be reclaimed. As the early twentieth century occultist Dion Fortune writes, “Any act performed with intention becomes a rite.” Discipline, intention, and the knowledge that magic is alive can change any art or act from mundane to magical, and the world into something new.      

-Adam Michael Krause

Closer to the Source: Marielle Allschwang's Experience at Standing Rock

Adam Krause

A few weeks ago, Milwaukee musician Marielle Allschwang traveled to Standing Rock, North Dakota to perform a benefit concert to help the water protectors facing off against the army and police. This is her written account of what she saw. She traveled and performed with Adam Michael Krause of Red Earth Press, whose much shorter account of their trip appears in the previous post.

 “All a musician can do is get closer to the source."

-John Coltrane

“It’s so beautiful out,” Jennifer, our guide, Mni Wiconi Benefit concert organizer, and tribe member of the Lakota Sioux, rejoiced as we walked away from the blockade at the edge of the Oceti Sakowin Camp.  Then, as if to scold the warmth, “This isn’t right. It’s November! It should be winter here. It should be cold.”

We hadn’t been in Standing Rock more than a few hours and we were already taking sobering bends through macro and microverse, portal after portal of time, space, intention, and consequence. Jennifer’s tangential commentary tacked an unnerving note to the steady realization that “we’re fucked,” amidst the consuming, ever-present, and immediately tangible list of needs and concerns at Standing Rock.  In Wisconsin, we’ve had many years of sporadic weather changes, where snowfall is melted by 70-degree heat. Jennifer seemed to be noticing this phenomenon for the first time, and I felt the guilt of passing the flu to a friend.

I wrote Lakota activist Yonasda Lonewolf offering to participate in the Mni Wiconi Benefit Concert she was organizing. I was elated by how quickly I received her invitation. I was traveling to Standing Rock and there was no backing out now. “Instead of celebrating the National Day of Mourning, come spend it with us,” the concert organizers announced.

The drive from Eau Claire to Fargo looked like a Victor Hugo painting. Bare autumn trees with stumped branches, charred and sunken in pools of small lakes, reflected like the offering of mythic swords. In St. Cloud, a thin, towering chimney pushed out smoke to form a dramatic cloud-arch that met the ground like an uncanny rainbow. The moody, turbulent cape of wind and snow wrapped us like a disappearing act into the North Dakota night, and we reached Bismarck in complete darkness.

Exhausted, we figured it best to stay in a hotel to rest up and rehearse for a good performance. Pulling into a lot off the highway, we were startled to discover half of it was taken up by Sheriff SUVs from Fargo and other surrounding counties. We drove around to find signs of friendlier outposts, but every hotel and motel was crawling with cops. Dazed from twelve hours on the road and too tired to ask for trouble before we made it to the stage, I refrained from slashing their tires. Instead, I decided, I’d find a cop over breakfast, and try to penetrate his soul with eye contact and a, “Hey, don’t hurt anyone out there, OK?” I would shoot an arrow of compassion into his cold, mercenary heart, and he would go off into the morning reprogrammed, my secret weapon. But the SUV’s were all gone by 7 a.m. I was too late.

We packed our guitars and made our way to Standing Rock. Our passage into reservation territory was as inscrutable as our entrance into North Dakota itself. This time, we were engulfed in a thick white fog, an opaque wall we continued to trail for hours. Occasional phantom orbs floated and flashed in our blanched veil. Hazard lights or guardian spirits, these fleeting clementine twinkles were just a mirage, and we sailed on through the fog which remained relentlessly heavy, like Dante’s Purgatorio, like Dickens’ moor, like the abyss that stares back at you when the world as you know it is about to change.

We were just two voyagers of thousands who had taken this path over the past 6 months, to leap into the void, face the dragon, unmask the killer, and tear apart at last an illusory tapestry of lies. Finally the mist gave way, and the sky glowed like a glass of milk on a windowsill facing the sun. The orange lights were real now, as we encountered warnings of the road closing ahead. We drove on anyhow, past deceptively modest prairies. Frozen, stoic, regal, and pure, they evoked a reverent enchantment punctuated by startling rock mounds towering above the brittle landscape. Helicopters flew over us, while we passed now-familiar sheriff cars and DAPL trucks.

We reached the roadblock just short of our destination. “DAPL Workers and Local Traffic Only.” Turning around, we followed an alternate route taking us nearly all the way back into Bismarck, and then finally to the casino, our check-in location for the concert.

At a nearby gas station, campers were buying hot dogs, gloves, and other provisions. The casino lobby was packed with a diverse biosphere of small groups conferencing quietly at their laptops, while a conspicuous pair more used to lecture halls than casino lobbies espoused trite theory, attempting at high volume to suss out flaws in the actions at Standing Rock: “It will only work if the government steps in; this is just all very sacrificial,” a young white male journalist announced. “Well, the protest actions need to be continuous,” his white female colleague countered. The front desk was overwhelmed with activity.

At the other end of the building, we found our group, headed by Lakota women. They met us with warm introductions, candid admissions of getting little sleep, an empowering prayer to the Great Creator, and some brief words of warning before we left for the Oceti Sakowin Camp.

Adam and I piled into a 15-passenger van with Jennifer and our group of musicians and journalists (some of us were, technically, both, though we all understood our obligation to bear witness). We were packed claustrophobically tight and became quickly acquainted. Knowing there was much to transmit in precious little time, Jennifer caught us up as best she could, but I couldn’t hear as much as I’d wished from the back corner of the van. Something about the cold, the sun, the miles of dry grass and solemnity of our drive reminded me of my grandmother’s burial: bells tolling in the crisp December air after her Kaddish; in the back seat of a strange car, I wanted to hear nothing but those bells. Now, in the van, I wanted to hear nothing but Jennifer’s voice.

What I did catch: A woman, a friend of hers, got hit in the arm by a percussion grenade thrown by the police. Shrapnel destroyed her arm. It is getting amputated soon. The police started a rumor that the grenade was thrown by a fellow water protector. Several protectors are suffering from PTSD. It has been extremely difficult to get assistance with this. Water protectors face constant disturbance and assault, raids, rubber bullets, mace, water sprays, sound cannons, and the ominous hum of helicopters and drones flying in the night. Another protector was detained by police and charged for attempted murder. She is well known as an advocate for peaceful tactics, a mother figure to indigenous youth, and rescuer of injured protectors at the front lines, many of them just kids. She could face 20 years in prison.

 We passed lean-backed horses, bowing in the fields flanking the road. A supernatural liquidity set them apart from the prosaic images of muscular, hot-breathed steeds I was accustomed to. I thought of Peter S. Beagle’s fantasy masterpiece, The Last Unicorn, whose subject “moved like a shadow on the sea.” Jennifer explained that these were legacy horses whose blood dated back to Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull’s horses. I’d seen drawings of Crazy Horse in dream-gallop—pencil and crayon on faded sheets from the 1800s. Here were those same silhouettes, grazing in noble acquiescence and seemingly protected by magic.

There were thousands of water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin Camp when we arrived. Bursting with tall flags, signs, tents, makeshift plywood houses, teepees, amplified community announcements, and prayer, this was a determined, active settlement. And more cars were flowing in all the time, bringing in supporters from around the world.

We exited our pod and set foot in another world. Bismarck seemed very far away. A vibration emanated from the ground and traveled up through my soles. Someone would tell me later that he felt the same thing. I looked down at my feet the way you might look at your palms during a dream.

Clean air, bright smells of freshly chopped wood, and then the smell of its smoke, made my head vibrate pleasantly. It was a full-body vibration now. All around were sounds of people working: chainsaws and axes preparing firewood, drums pulsing, choruses of song and chants of unmitigated prayer, building, cooking, feeding, training, telling. Cycles within cycles; pilgrimage for the hopeful; concentric circumambulations of ritual and communal survival.

One of the journalists in our group showed us his voice memo of the sound cannons used by the police against water protectors in recent days. It was an evil, snarling sound, a dogfight of frequencies. Even through the tiny phone speaker, the recording made your skull hurt. Incredible, how the United States is using decades of scientific research against our indigenous peoples, yet the people of Standing Rock give us healing sounds.

Jennifer guided us up the slope of the camp, back toward the road. “There’s a tree with a red flag on it—don’t go past that tree,” she warned us.

Out of the red-flagged tree, a green rope snaked across the black road, keeping us several feet from the barricade. Here was the nightmare from Genesis: subjugated serpent, wilting fruit, threats of expulsion. Jennifer pointed out hills next to the road, topped unsettlingly with more police SUVs. “They have snipers up there.” If we crossed the line, the police determined, we would be trespassers and could be shot. Several feet beyond the rope sprawled a barricade—cement blocks and uniformly parked vehicles. This was the second of two barricades guarding the DAPL work site; we had encountered the first that morning, approaching from the other direction.

Yonasda ushered a tribe member before us. He was a tall, calm man in sunglasses, brown overalls, earrings and a knit cap. Later, at Standing Rock High School, he would greet me with a hug that made me feel like a prodigal daughter. Our guides urged him to tell us his story. In keeping with the oral tradition so essential to the survival of tribal customs and, now, to our First Amendment Rights, the small crowd took out their cell phones, cameras, and audio recorders, some listeners shuffling closer for an autonomous press conference. We were huddled tight. Gesturing an arm which swept above our heads toward the barricade, he explained,

There were trucks that came and parked together to barricade the road, but the road is supposed to be open. They say it’s “untravellable.” We came up to try to move the barricade and they started spraying hoses at us, tear gassing us, shooting a pellet, bean bags…We just stood there, by the water, let ‘em stare at us. A majority of the time, our friends were laughing. “Why are you staring at the water?” “Well, we’re water protectors!” (The listeners laugh) From that time on, they just stayed right there…So now we have an agreement with them that they stay there, they won’t ever come across […]

 We have people that come up at nighttime, that try to go over there, look at it; they gotta dial to call us over. We had a call like that about a week ago. My little brother here, those people at the grave, forgot about this part—that’s the truck, put their laser light on him, a laser beam. As I was walking closer, two people tell us, just trying to clear the bridge, but—“You will be arrested, you will be arrested.” Now, step on that bridge, then it’s trespassing […]

 If you can see that power line [across the barricade], that power line is around about where the pipeline is, and just on the other side of that is where their camp is, where all their workers and the police and all of them are camping. So, they say that’s for the public safety. That’s what the barricade is for—that’s their words, not mine.

 A woman asks, “Who authorized police to use live rounds if anyone gets too close to the bridge?”

Morton County.

 “Those people behind the barricade, they say we’re dangerous,” a protector adds.

“Who put those barricades up?” the woman continues.

Morton County.

 Everything you see there that was set up there, besides something that could be picked up by you, he pointed to burnt out trucks and SUV’s at the barricade, was put there by Morton County.

 (woman’s voice) They say anyone who comes up to the bridge is considered dangerous.

(man’s voice) Especially if they see us gathering like this.

 He started telling us about that previous Sunday.

There were people out, they were being shot by bean bags and rubber bullets and all the stuff [the police] say they weren’t using.

 “What was Sunday night like?”

War,” Jennifer answered from the back of the group. “War.”

The questioner turned. “Were you there? Sunday night?”

I knew she had been, but she said nothing more.

The truth is that I couldn’t have felt safer among the water protectors. A profound sense of gratitude and respect laid the foundation for trust in the Standing Rock community, even if that trust was not automatically reciprocated to newcomers. Media restrictions had gotten tighter at the camp, and recording of sacred rituals and songs were expressly prohibited. The real danger was felt from across the barricade, up on the hills, and back at Bismarck.

Bismarck was the hub where police and DAPL contractors rested up and made furtive calls on their cell phones in hotels. Its local newspaper exhibited the bare minimum of objectivity, dutifully peppering its articles with environmentalist concerns and quotes from “protestors” who had traveled to Standing Rock as counterpoint, while printing photographs of police “restraining protestors,” publishing the sheriff’s department statements on how few arrests they had made that day, and dedicating an entire article to the financial woes of police costs, North Dakota’s extended lines of credit taken to suppress “out of hand” protests, and desperate pleas for federal monetary support.  In subsequent days, Bismarck was complicit with an embargo on the Camp as part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ eviction strategy. Many of the city’s businesses declared that they would refuse to sell provisions to water protectors. We even found out that Bismarck had hosted a hip-hop concert the same weekend as ours, a ridiculous effort, hoping Salt N Pepa, Vanilla Ice, and Tone Loc would entice Standing Rock supporters away from the Mni Wiconi Benefit. During their set, Salt N Pepa announced, “We stand with Standing Rock!” eliciting boos from the audience. Is Bismarck’s response to Standing Rock a litmus test for the American Police State? This could be any city, the place where greed sleeps like a baby before it hunts your gold at dawn.

That evening, we loaded our instruments into the Standing Rock High School gymnasium, its walls displaying hand-painted signs with slogans, “DEFEND THE SACRED”, “WATER IS MEDICINE”, and a moving statement (translated from Lakota), “Because We Believe In Them We Are Feeding Them.” Children were playing while artists sound checked. Families began to trickle in.

Concert organizers and musicians urgently trying to post updates to social media were struggling against the lack of internet and cell phone service. Jennifer sighed in woe at her laptop, “I need a nap.” Then she rejoiced as the website loaded – “VICE is coming to cover the concert!” Our organizers had arranged for a live stream of the concert and fund raising via text, but wifi was spotty, then completely frozen. There has been much talk at Standing Rock about unusual battery drainage and wifi disruption, possibly due to the airplanes flying over the Oceti Sakowin Camp with Dirtboxes, which you can read more about here. In any event, our hosts were finally able to stream the concert using good old fashioned Ethernet cables. Anarchists: never get rid of those Ethernet outlets.

Our stage manager floated about taking roll call. She was dressed formally, an alpha female in high heel boots, beaded earrings, a black leather jacket, and long wavy hair. I anticipated the smell of perfume, but as she flew past me in her flurry of activity, the scent of Oceti Sakowin Campfire lingered in the air—rich, intimidating, and jarring in its reminder of where we were.

In fact, everyone here carried traces of their power. Our group of performers was ethnically diverse and well educated in their family histories, which were more often than not fraught with oppression and dislocation. Earlier that day, Jennifer advised us, “Know your bloodline. It’s the only way we’ll ever be able to understand each other.” Our bloodlines flowed to Standing Rock. “If you have come here to help me,” said Murri (Indigenous Australian) artist Lilla Watson, “you’re wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Those of us at Standing Rock felt our liberation bound up with it, and I am still humbled by the great privilege of having stood in the presence of its elders, women, and baby-faced teenagers who continue to shield us with their bravery.

Before the concert started, we stood in a circle in the cold, behind the gymnasium. We huddled close—our third huddle of the day—arms linked, as another musician shared with us his heritage, a Puerto Rican grandmother sold into slavery in the U.S., and asserted that we stood in a “circle of resistance,” that this shared passion is what drives us to create, and that we were here for those on the frontlines of this critical battle.

Adam and I were determined to give the best performance of our lives. The moment was charged with relevance. We played “Farmer,” “Dead Not Done,” and “Be the Dirt.” Many of the performers were hip-hop artists including Hellnback, a rapper from Canada and member of the Samson Cree Nation, who announced between songs that his home has long suffered the detrimental effects of pipelines and fracking. The water in his community is undrinkable.

Every artist had lyrics about running.

Sometimes it would hit me, what the audience around me was facing: the children in the front row whose source of drinking water was resting naked at the nose of digging machines; the elders who have retained and transmitted a way of life and love so strong, I feel protected by it even now; warriors of peace who volunteered to face abuse, injury, trauma, imprisonment, and heartbreak for our land and its people.

We held our fists in the air. Comrades embraced one another. One young man was sitting near Adam and I as we packed our guitars. He was writing something on a scrap of paper, and paused. “Thank you,” he said, smiling up at us. “It’s the least we could do,” we replied, “You’ve done so much for us.” “Well, after standing on a bridge for ten hours being maced and sprayed with freezing cold water, we need some levity. We need some joy.”

We left Standing Rock High School in the dark, reluctantly, heavy-hearted, but proud of what we had done. Still accompanied by a caravan of concertgoers, I spotted flashing colored lights in my rear-view mirror. Worried I was about to get pulled over, I slowed to the side of the road. But it was an ambulance, blazing silently past us toward the Camp.

-Marielle Allschwang

gymnasium2

Mni Wiconi Benefit Concert

Adam Krause

I just returned from North Dakota, where my wife, Marielle Allschwang, and I played a benefit concert in the gymnasium of Standing Rock High School, just a few miles from the intense stand-off against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The night before the benefit, it had been too late and too dark to drive to the camp and try to set up a tent without being a nuisance to people sleeping off the sting of rubber bullets. So we stopped in Bismarck, pulled into a hotel, and saw that more than half the parking lot was filled with police vehicles. Scared, we went to another hotel. This one was better. Instead of more than half, just slightly less than half the lot was cop cars. We stayed there. In the morning, not knowing the best way to the venue, we drove for half an hour and encountered a blockaded road. We backtracked and found a new route. There were no blockades on this road, but helicopters flew overhead, and trucks on their way to the camp had been pulled over. It's rare that getting to a venue feels like such a subversive act.

We arrived. All the musicians playing the benefit were packed into a van and brought to the Oceti Sakowin Camp. From the window, I was stunned by the camp's size, cleanliness, and orderliness. But exiting the van, and setting foot on the straw-covered soil, the smell of burning wood, and the ever-present prayer-circles made it feel unlike any place I have ever been. It seemed like the ground was vibrating. Maybe it was.

When it came time to perform that night for people who have been shot with rubber bullets, pepper sprayed, and then hosed with water in sub-freezing temperatures, yet still maintained the most magical environment I have ever inhabited, I knew I needed to put on the greatest performance of my lifetime. Maybe I didn't succeed. But goddammit I tried. A man the police had recently sprayed with water thanked me for coming. After all he had been through, it was the least I could do, I said. He said, no. You don't understand. After all we've been through, we need this. We need some joy.

So I may not have been attacked by the state, but I cheered up someone who has. It ain't much, but I'm proud.

-Adam Michael Krause

This drawing was taped to the door of the gymnasium:

A Peculiar Performance of John Cage's 4'33"

Adam Krause

The very idea of Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly sitting silently and performing a piece that is all about listening to the world as it happens is absurd. I had to really search for enough silence to loop effectively. Otherwise, they were just yammering on and on and talking over each other. But this was very therapeutic to make. I hope in some small way it can help us all cope.

-amk